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JENETTE LIFTS LABOUR GLOOM

PUBLISHED: 15:43 09 May 2008 | UPDATED: 08:55 21 July 2010

Jennette Arnold

Jennette Arnold

BORIS Johnson swept to victory in the election for mayor of London on Friday, ending Ken Livingstone s eight years in office at City Hall...

BORIS Johnson swept to victory in the election for mayor of London on Friday, ending Ken Livingstone's eight years in office at City Hall.

However, just a day after Labour had slumped to its worst ever defeat in countrywide rural and metropolitan local elections, Jennette Arnold, registered a remarkable victory in the contest for the London Assembly's North East seat, which covers the boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest, to salvage some consolation for Gordon Brown.

She was re-elected after more than doubling the 13,338 majority she had four years ago to beat second-placed Conservative rival Alexander Ellis by 28,437 votes.

The exceptionally high turn-out in the constituency - up from 31.33 per cent in 2004 to 43.18 per cent - was also a major factor in the increased share of the overall vote

Ms Arnold polled 73,991 votes, marking an 11 per cent swing to Labour.

The Tories also increased their percentage share of the vote, overtaking the Liberal Democrats, who were runners-up in 2004, to poll 21,850 more votes.

Ironically, the third-placed Lib-Dems gained almost 5,000 more votes this time round, but still saw a 2.3 per cent swing away.

The Greens also made big gains, increasing their vote by 9,106. However, UKIP saw their vote slump.

Ms Arnold said she was "thrilled", but disappointed that Labour didn't retain the mayoralty.

She said she had no idea of how Mr Johnson intended to run the capital, reduce crime and ensure the skills gap was met, as well as provide affordable housing and better transport systems while retaining London's position as a top city.

"I know so little about him, other than he has made offensive remarks about black people in the past and he is known for acting the clown," she said.

The election of BNP candidate Richard Barnbrook to one of the London Assembly's 11 top-up seats vote would be difficult emotionally for her as a black woman, she said, but she ruled out any boycott by fellow assembly members.

"I have to accept he was democratically elected by some Londoners and although I disagree vehemently with their views he has a right to be there, except that I will request not to sit near him and I won't be listening to what he has to say," she added.

In the contest for mayor, voters in the London North East constituency recorded the highest number of first preference votes in the capital for Mr Livingstone with 96,402.

They also recorded the smallest number of votes of any of the 14 London constituencies for Mr Johnson, who finished second with 57,394 votes.

There was also a Tory triumph for Hackney resident and former Hackney councillor, Andrew Boff, who was elected to one of the 11 London-wide top-up seats on the assembly.

Mr Boff, who lives in Bocking Street, London Fields, and represented Queensbridge ward in Dalston, said: "I will be keeping a close eye on Hackney and its council because I believe residents deserve better and Boris and I will be working towards ensuring the voice of Hackney residents is heard.

"I will pay particular interest to the Olympics and the London Development Agency's expenditure of money in Dalston," he added.

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